The incomparable highlight of Acer & # 39; s new Predator Triton 900 gaming laptop is the beautiful 17.3-inch 4K IPS LCD screen that floats above the chassis. Okay, it's not exactly floating. The sturdy arms on the sides of the screen play a central role in the effect, giving it a huge range of movement, more than almost any other laptop that is made for gaming or not. It is as if the Microsoft Surface Studio screen appears all-in-one on a laptop, along with a comparable high price.
The entry-level configuration I am reviewing costs $ 3,799, and despite the similarities it has with the artist-friendly desktop of Microsoft, Acer & # 39; s screen does not support active styluses, such as Surface products or many other laptops. I don't think most players will care about this omission, but it is nonsense that a laptop that is so expensive with a design that reflects a drawing surface does not really work.
As for the screen can well, you can move back and forth without changing the viewing angle. And if you have to turn it, the hinge ensures a 180 degree turn. Is this usually a gimmick? Yes. How essential is a movable screen during gaming? Not bad, at least for me, although it is handy if you are dealing with a wandering gaze. (It's going to happen with a display of this glossy.) The main reason I can't adjust the screen while playing is that it is so dizzying that even the smallest details appear, no matter how far away I am.
Much of my pleasure came from the movable display when I did was not gaming. The 17.3-inch screen is a huge canvas in which a set-up with multiple windows is underway all day long feels reasonably comfortable. I notice that a clear image parallel to my eyes helps me to concentrate better, and the Triton 900 is always ready to do something about it, whether I'm at work or getting up. That is not something a standard clamshell laptop can offer, at least without having to adjust my chair, desk or physically move me.
Surprisingly, the premium on the movable screen is not shocking. It will cost you about the same (plus or minus a few hundred dollars, depending on the brand) as any other gaming laptop with a six-core 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics card, 32 GB DDR4 RAM, and a 4K IPS LCD screen. If you were already planning to spend the big bucks on a colossal gaming laptop that is not very portable (instead of saving thousands on a do-it-yourself desktop with similar specifications), this seems to be one of the more interesting choices.
The Triton 900 physically dominates my shared desk at home. It is almost 17-inch wide, plus an extra half an inch on each side for the hinges of the screen. It weighs nine pounds, making it wear around a literal pain. It is difficult to find a bag that is currently suitable for a 17-inch laptop. Even if you find one, it doesn't change that this laptop just isn't fun to lug around, especially since it can't take a long time without piling its 330 W power adapter on another two pounds.
The lower chassis to which the screen is attached looks a lot like what you would find on other gaming laptops. The milled aluminum is placed at an angle in almost every corner, which will certainly pop up some kind of bystander response. It is wide enough to mount two top-fire speakers, an 82-key (80 percent) mechanical backlit keyboard and a trackpad from left to right, but not without a few compromises.
The speakers are powerful enough to make my glass table vibrate, but they don't sound great. They are well put together, such as for a video conference call, but they miss the punch that makes me want to use them instead of headphones. The mechanical keys have a satisfying click, and they are more fun to use than those on a MacBook, although the main travel distance is still shallow. The trackpad is located to the right of the keyboard (for right-handed people only) and its use is a really good experience, thanks to the Windows Precision driver plane drivers.
I do, however, have a few pinchs. The keyboard is located on the front of the chassis and does not allow anything to rest your palms and wrists as you type. This is more a limitation than a misplaced design decision, because Acer had to make room for powerful hardware and enough fans to keep it all cool. If you are not already using a wrist rest, you probably have to buy one. But if you plan to play on your lap, the keyboard will be even more uncomfortable to use.
The question mark key and the right Shift key on the right are crammed together in such a way that errors are virtually guaranteed during fast typing. The trackpad responds to touch and multi-finger movements, although the high direction feels tight. It is definitely not suitable for fast games. If you decide not to use the trackpad, you can change it to a numeric keypad by tapping the corner twice. These virtual numkeys are not perceptible and sometimes do not respond to quick taps, so it will not be a good replacement for an external numeric keypad, although it may work a bit.
The keyboard also contains macro keys, user-programmable shortcuts, above the function keys. A key labeled "P" (for Predator, presumably) switches between up to three macro groups, giving you nine configurable keys to which you can assign a function. You can assign a button to do things such as starting an installed app, increasing the fan speed, turning off the Windows key and more. All of this is really useful if you notice that you want to adjust many settings during the game, something that gamers usually do.
This is all configurable in Acer & # 39; s PredatorSense suite, a tool that also allows you to do things such as adjusting the background lighting pattern of the keyboard and the light falling on the nearby glass-covered fan, the machine's graphics card overclocking and monitor its operating temperature. .
There are ventilation openings around the Triton 900, a few for taking in air and a few for blowing out. A system that becomes so powerful, up to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) while running Battlefield V at 4K resolution with ray tracing and Nvidia & # 39; s DLSS (deep learning supersampling) function enabled. While the fans roar loudly, I was a little scared to put it on my lap, but it was surprisingly bearable (although much too hot for the summer months). The laptop blows a large part of the warm air from the back, a place where my fingers and legs don't really come in contact. On top of the chassis is an air intake next to the Gorilla Glass-covered heatsink and fan that receives the rear half of the computer. Acer & # 39; s decision to push the keyboard so close to the front ensures that the CPU and GPU stay cool and that this is at the expense of an ergonomic keyboard and mouse installation.
You can usually count on a healthy amount of ports on a gaming laptop and the Triton 900 is no disappointment. There are two USB 3.1 (Type-A) ports, headphone and microphone connections, a Thunderbolt 3 port and, somewhat astoundingly, a fold-out USB 2.0 port on the left side of the keyboard. Acer calls it an "Xbox controller port", so you should connect an Xbox wireless adapter, close it and then forget about it. However, I noticed that the port had enough space to fit on a small flash drive or a USB receiver for my Logitech mouse. The last remaining ports are Ethernet, HDMI and DisplayPort.
This laptop is no nonsense when it comes to performance. Outside of gaming, it showed no signs of slowing down under what I consider a moderate load: opening 20 Google Chrome tabs, along with Affinity Photo for photo editing and a few other apps. You would expect so much from a $ 3,799 laptop, right?
However, the battery life is a different story. This is a major weakness for gaming laptops in general, but the lifetime of that person under the same load was about an hour ago, which is disturbingly short. It has a 72Wh battery on the inside, which is less than smaller, thinner devices, such as the 15-inch MacBook Pro. To turn on Apex Legends shortened the duration to approximately 45 minutes. This computer burns quickly through the battery.
Another common problem for high-end gaming laptops built with 1440p or 4K screens is that they usually cannot run every game smoothly with native resolution. The Triton 900 is running, for example Battlefield V and Apex Legends at sub-30 frames per second when set to 4K resolution, with all graphic settings set to maximum. Overclocking (easy to turn on via Acer & # 39; s pre-installed software suite) improves things a bit, although I still didn't get super smooth 60 frames per second in both games.
There were many games that I tested, such as Astronomer and Forza horizon 4, that runs beautifully at native 4K resolution. However, Cyberpunk 2077and other graphically-intensive games will arrive as we arrive on the eve of a new console generation. This machine is ready for them, but you can expect that some of the newest games are too punitive to keep up with the overclocking power.
The fact that the 4K screen supports G-Sync may be a selling point for some. For background, G-Sync is Nvidia's technology that precisely synchronizes the variable refresh rate of a screen with what the graphics card outputs. G-Sync, compared to V-Sync in a traditional screen, minimizes screen cracks and other graphic hitches without increasing input lag. So, ideally, you get better performance from your hardware without costly milliseconds, which is exactly the kind of precision that competitive gamers want. Unfortunately, this screen is limited to a refresh rate of 60 Hz, so the fastest frame rates that you see are limited to 60 frames per second. It looks good, although you can better see this technology in action on high refresh rate monitors that can display 144 frames per second (or more).
Talking about the limitations of a device is important, especially if it costs nearly $ 4000. Gaming laptops strive to pack the best performing hardware, so you have to hand it over to manufacturers when they sort it out, especially when they also implement a nice, portable screen. But the compromises here, which are usually inherent to all game laptops, were thick.
Acer & # 39; s Predator Triton 900 is powerful enough for a gamer to enjoy, but the 60 Hz refresh rate is a disappointment. With this amount of money you should get a screen with a faster refresh rate and as a gamer I would look elsewhere if that is important to you. And if you're an artist intrigued by the Surface Studio-inspired screen, the lack of active stylus support is a great overview of Acer.
What good is a laptop that is so large that you cannot reasonably take it without serious effort? What good is a 4K screen if the device cannot run many popular games with that resolution? It is not great.
I welcome Acer for an attempt to increase the appeal of his gaming laptop by appealing to artists or anyone who has a lot of money and wants a laptop with an interesting design. But with that, the Predator Triton 900 is halfway between meeting what die-hard gamers and artists want in a machine. It can do a lot, but the restrictions, no matter how small they may seem, are deal-breakers.
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